Premier highlights economic restructuring

Updated: 2013-07-17 01:40

By DING QINGFEN (China Daily)

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Li confident of keeping nation's development at reasonable level

Premier Li Keqiang pledged on Tuesday to push ahead with economic restructuring while maintaining stable growth.

"We should not shift our policy orientation just because of temporary changes in economic indicators," he said at a meeting with economists and corporate leaders.

He made the remarks as figures show the economy is growing at its slowest pace in a decade.

Economic restructuring is aimed at turning export- and investment-led growth into growth driven by domestic consumption.

The National Bureau of Statistics said on Monday the economy expanded by only 7.5 percent in the second quarter, down from 7.7 percent in the first — a far cry from nearly double-digit growth two years ago

Li said the economy has entered a new stage of development that prioritizes restructuring and technological upgrading.

The focus of macroeconomic control is to avoid big swings in the economy and to keep growth within a reasonable range through stable growth, adequate employment and low inflation, he said.

Li said China is capable of achieving its growth target of 7.5 percent this year without a massive stimulus program similar to the one launched during the 2008-09 global financial crisis.

The Central Economic Work Conference late last year set a goal for inflation this year of 3.5 percent, with a registered urban unemployment rate of below 4.6 percent.

"We are confident and capable of accomplishing the tasks given the current conditions," Li said, adding that it will require painstaking efforts.

Small policy adjustments can be made if growth is considered too slow or sliding toward the government's acceptable limit, the premier said, adding there are plenty of options.

In view of slowing economic growth, economists at home and abroad have been speculating on whether China will take immediate measures to stimulate the economy.

But Li said the nation can tolerate the current economic growth rate and should improve the quality of growth.

He has been pushing for economic restructuring since taking office, which some economists say suggests the government is not in a hurry to launch fresh stimulus measures to revive an economy in a protracted slowdown.

Li said the economy is facing unprecedented complications, with the global economic recovery "twisted".

China should rely more on a structural transformation and technology upgrade, allowing the market to play a full role, focusing on innovation and improving people's livelihoods in an attempt to sustain stable and healthy economic growth in the long term, he said.

During the meeting, Li also called for high vigilance against the economy deteriorating beyond the acceptable limit.

According to the General Administration of Customs, China's exports fell 3.1 percent in June, the most since October 2009, while imports dipped 0.7 percent.

The agency predicts grim prospects for the third quarter.

Long Guoqiang, director of foreign economic relations at the State Council Development Research Center, said, "There will be negative growth in exports in the second half of this year", because of slackened global demand, increased costs and a rising yuan.

Zhang Yuyan, a senior researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said economic growth is slowing but still remains at a reasonable level.

"A 7 percent growth rate is acceptable," Zhang said.